13 March 2008

SPA Talks - Continuous Integration and Type Driven Testing

In the space of two weeks there have been two BCS SPA Cambridge talks organised by Mark Dalgarno.

Continuous Integration by Ivan Moore

The second talk by Ivan Moore after his interactive talk about Test-Drive-Development (which was a crash course on Java as well). This time it was not as interactive but just as practical. In addition to the slides he actually demonstrated his own continuous integration system (available from Sourceforge) build-o-matic. It has some interesting features like pictures to show the guilty parties when thebuild or tests break. It also is quite a simple build system which means you can more or less build anything with it.

He was preaching to the converted as most of the audience were practicing continuous integration anyway. I think the main lesson to take away from the talk is to not compromise at any point on the builds or the tests even in with a heavy workload.

Type Driven Development in Haskell by Simon Peyton-Jones

This talk was really about how to write more robust programs in functional programming. The talk involved more of a discussion of functional languages and their benefits as well as how to write tests that more define the concepts and rules for inputs and the outputs.

Mostly the testing part reminded me of the static assertions that are available in the C++ Boost Library. I think that there must be a bridge to utilise more aspects of functional programming in a library like fashion because of the interesting optimisations that can be made. Also mathematical correctness is a bonus.

The lecture itself was interesting and certainly animated. The sign of a good talk is that it makes you think, and I am certainly thinking about functional languages and their applications (after all templates can be used in that fashion but it does put a lot of strain on the compiler). I can certainly see some useful applications in the field of CAD/CAM - shame I left hat field...